Preventing parasite infestation is crucial to maintaining your horse’s health. If left untreated, a high parasite load can cause symptoms including poor quality coat, weight loss, diarrhea or colic. There are two methods of parasite control: daily dewormers or a paste dewormer program. No matter which method you use, there are five things every owner should (or shouldn’t) do.
1. Take the Test
Knowing the type and number of parasites in your horse is imperative. Ask your vet to perform a “fecal egg per gram” test, also known as a “fecal egg count”, or order our Equine Fecal Test Kit. This test should be done at least once a year, or per your veterinarian’s recommendations. As parasite resistance becomes an increasing concern, more and more horse owners are choosing to test their horses on a regular basis and use an appropriate paste dewormer to target their horse’s specific parasite load.
2. Don’t Play Guessing Games
It’s important to dose your horse according to his weight. Dosing inaccurately can be dangerous to your horse or compromise the efficacy of your deworming program, wasting your money and exposing your horse to the risks of a heavy parasite load. If you’re not sure how big your horse is, measure him with the SmartPak Weight Tape.
3. Target Tapeworms
Use a paste dewormer that is effective against tapeworms once or twice a year. Tapeworms pose a serious threat to your horse’s health, including increasing his risk of colic. It has been suggested that horses with tapeworms are more likely to experience spasmodic colic than those without.Even more concerning, tapeworms are now considered to be a cause of certain types of colic that require emergency surgery. To target tapeworms, use a product that contains the active ingredient praziquantel, like Quest Plus Gel, Equimax or Zimecterin Gold.
4. Know the Stages of Small Strongyles
Small strongyles can be difficult to manage effectively. During their larval stage of development, they can become encysted, or encapsulated inside your horse’s intestinal lining. While many active ingredients target the adult population of small strongyles in your horse, only two have been shown to be effective against the encysted larvae. Use a double dose of fenbedazole given for five consecutive days, as provided by the Panacur Powerpac or one single dose of moxidectin, like that available in Quest, to combat encysted small strongyles.
5. Timing is Everything
For a convenient, low-maintenance program, consider feeding a daily dewormer like Strongid C2X, or CW. Daily dewormers are fed year-round, along with a paste that targets tapeworms given twice a year. Since consistent and accurate doses are the key to effective use of daily dewormers, add one to your SmartPak to be sure your horse gets exactly what he needs! Because the timing of parasite lifecycles varies throughout the country, if you choose to only use pastes, it’s important to build your program based on your climate. Work with your veterinarian to develop a strategic program that will help control worms during the times of year in which they are most active.